Book early to avoid summer fare surge, says Ryanair

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary - REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary – REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

Ryanair has urged holidaymakers to book early to avoid surging fares this summer as the budget airline said it was preparing for its busiest ever getaway season.

The airline said it would be running its “largest ever schedule”, with 3,000 flights a day over summer.

Ryanair said that while demand for short haul flights in Europe were still below pre-Covid levels, overall bookings continued to be “strong”.

“Forward bookings and air fares currently into [summer] are strong and we continue to urge all customers to book early to avoid rising “close-in” prices,” the airline said.

Fares are already 10pc above pre-Covid levels as a result of surging fuel costs and a lack of available seats across the industry after many airlines went bust or downsized during the pandemic.

Chief executive Michael O’Leary said: “To date, summer 2023 demand is robust and peak summer 2023 fares are trending ahead of last year.”

The average ticket for a seat on one of Ryanair’s flights now stands at €41 (£36), the company said.

Read the latest updates below.

08:14 AM

Micron shares tumble after China ban

Frankfurt-listed shares in Micron Technology fell 6pc in early trading after Beijing banned the US firm from selling memory chips to key domestic industries.

China’s cyberspace regulator said late on Sunday that Micron, the biggest US memory chipmaker, had failed its network security review and that it would block operators of key infrastructure from buying from the company.

The Micron Technology automotive chip manufacturing plant in Manassas, Virginia - AP Photo/Steve Helber

The Micron Technology automotive chip manufacturing plant in Manassas, Virginia – AP Photo/Steve Helber

08:06 AM

FTSE 100 inches higher

London’s blue-chip index has begun the week higher after Japan’s Nikkei hit a fresh 33-year high.

However, concerns about the US debt default talks have kept markets in check.

The internationally-focused FTSE 100 has risen 0.1pc to 7,765.94 while the midcap FTSE 250 was flat at 19,280.98.

07:58 AM

Allen & Overy lines up multi-billion dollar merger with Shearman

“Magic circle” law firm Allen & Overy is planning to merge with New York’s Shearman & Sterling to create one of the world’s largest legal outfits with $3.4bn in revenue.

Lauren Almeida has the details:

The new firm, which will be known as Allen Overy Shearman Sterling, will be one of the biggest legal players in the world. It will have nearly 4,000 lawyers spread across 49 offices.

The deal will bolster Allen & Overy’s presence in the US, as London’s elite “magic circle” firms increasingly seek to boost their presence across the Atlantic.

News of the deal comes just months after Shearman called off merger talks with rival US firm Hogan Lovells. The firms said at the time that after “careful consideration”, a combination was “not in the best interest of either firm”.

The Allen & Overy and Shearman tie up is subject to a vote from all partners, but if approved will be the first combination of a magic circle firm and an American rival since Clifford Chance merged with Rogers & Wells more than two decades ago.

Read what partners said about the new firm, which will be known as A&O Shearman for short.

07:46 AM

Wise chief to step down after ‘quite horrible accident’

Wise chief financial officer Matthew Briers will step down to focus on recovering from a bike accident last year.

He will depart by March next year with the company beginning its search for a new finance chief immediately.

Mr Briers said:

I returned back to work at Wise after a quite horrible accident where I went under the wheels of a bus, and so, with this in mind, my focus will shift to making a full recovery.

Wise has been the most exhilarating and worthwhile experience of my working life. I love my team, and the leaders I work with every day. The customers and shareholders are in great hands.

Chief executive Kristo Käärmann, who is himself taking a three month sabbatical after having children, said: “Matt joined us at the time when only around 500,000 people had used Wise and we were losing money. He helped us scale up into a global service that today 16m people and businesses around the world know they can count on.”

07:33 AM

Ryanair returns to annual profit for first time since pandemic

Ryanair rebounded back into bumper annual net profits, boosted by a “strong” post-Covid recovery despite increasing costs.

Profit after tax soared to €1.4 billion euros (£1.2bn) in year to the end of March, after a net loss of €355m in its previous financial year.

The Dublin-based low-cost carrier had narrowed losses in its prior 2021/2022 fiscal year, boosted by the lifting of coronavirus lockdowns.

Chief executive Michael O’Leary said:

Over the last year we have seen a very strong post-Covid traffic recovery.

People have been locked up for two years and wanted to go back to travelling.

Revenues more than doubled to €10.8bn (£9.4bn) on rising fares, as the group reported “strong market share gains” in Italy, Poland, Ireland, Spain and elsewhere in Europe.

Passenger traffic leapt 74pc to 168.6m travellers, with fares 10pc above pre-Covid levels.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary - REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary – REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

07:28 AM

Government sells £1.3bn of NatWest shares

The Government has sold £1.3bn of its shares in NatWest, bringing its total share in the bank it rescued during the global financial crisis to 38.6pc.

It is the sixth block sale of NatWest shares since taxpayers saved the bank in 2008, when it was known as Royal Bank of Scotland or RBS.

The Government owned 84pc of the institution at its peak.

Treasury Secretary Andrew Griffith said: “Today’s sale is another major milestone in returning NatWest to full private ownership as promised. The government has now sold well over half of its shareholding.”

NatWest - Matt Crossick/PA Wire

NatWest – Matt Crossick/PA Wire

07:24 AM

China bans US chipmaker Micron in escalating tech battle

China has said it found “relatively serious” cybersecurity risks from chips made by US semiconductor giant Micron amid an escalating technology battle between the superpowers.

The world’s second-largest economy announced the American manufacturer failed to pass a cybersecurity review because its components caused “significant security risks to our critical information infrastructure supply chain,” which would affect national security.

Washington has already blacklisted several Chinese tech firms, cut off the flow of sophisticated processors and banned Americans from providing certain help to the Chinese chip industry.

In a statement, the US Commerce Department said Beijing’s conclusion had “no basis in fact” and Washington will continue to try and limit industry disruptions with its allies.

Shares in Micron’s biggest industry rivals, Samsung and SK Hynix gained overnight in Seoul.

Chinese chip stocks including sector bellwethers Semiconductor Manufacturing International and Hua Hong Semiconductor climbed more than 3pc in Hong Kong.

US President Joe Biden had voiced optimism about the China relationship on Sunday at the end of the G7 summit in Japan, saying he expected ties between the two countries will start to “thaw very shortly”.

The Chinese cyber agency – the Cyberspace Administration of China – said in its statement banning Micron that the country welcomes products and services provided by companies of all countries as long as they comply with its laws and regulations.

It said the investigation into Micron products are a “necessary measure” to safeguard national security.

It did not detail what the security risks were or identify specific Micron products that are now barred.

Micron, which has previously said it stood by the security of its products and commitments to customers, said in a statement that it is evaluating the conclusion of the review.

The company is assessing its next steps, adding that it looks forward “to continuing to engage in discussions with Chinese authorities”.

Micron is assessing its next steps after China's ban on its components - REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Micron is assessing its next steps after China’s ban on its components – REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

07:03 AM

Good morning

China has banned Micron Technology from the world’s second largest economy, after announcing it failed a cybersecurity review.

Beijing claimed its components posed a “significant security risks to our critical information infrastructure supply chain, but the US said the conclusion had “no basis in fact”.

It comes despite Joe Biden voicing optimism about the US’s relationship with China on Sunday at the end of the G7 summit in Japan, saying he expected ties between the two countries will start to “thaw very shortly”.

5 things to start your day

1) How the ‘naive’ golden boy of levelling up got hit with claims of criminality and corruption | Allegations of sweetheart deals cast a long shadow over landmark redevelopment projects

2) Post-Brexit immigration curbs spark pay boom for hospitality workers | High rates of employment and a crippling skills shortage are driving up wages

3) Britain’s crumbling buy-to-let market ‘is jeopardising house building’ | A reduction in investors and off-plan purchases leaves developers short of funding

4) ‘Perverse’ tax system means work doesn’t pay, warns Treasury Select Committee chief | Harriett Baldwin’s focus is on eliminating quirks in the system that create taxation ‘cliff edges’

5) Cheapest rail tickets can no longer be bought at booking offices as passengers forced to go online | Change to hit rail passengers amid continued disruption from industrial action

What happened overnight

Asian shares rose after Mr Biden said relations with China are expected to improve “very shortly,” and as the market awaited possible progress in US debt-limit talks.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index jumped more than 1pc, led by technology shares. Historically cheap valuations following consecutive weekly declines added further support.

The advance led in a region-wide rally that including Japanese and mainland China shares but excluded Australian blue chips.

South Korea’s Kospi gained as much as 1pc, on track for its sixth daily advance. Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix were among the biggest contributors to the benchmark after China said their US rival Micron Technology had failed to pass a cybersecurity review.

Tokyo stocks closed higher, with the key Nikkei index rising to a fresh 33-year high, as active buying by foreign investors overwhelmed profit-taking.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 added 0.9pc to 31,086.82, while the broader Topix index ended up 0.7pc at 2,175.90.

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